BUSINESS advisory firm Grant Thornton’s annual Women in Business report showed that women account for 48 percent on the top echelons of mid-market businesses. This was a figure taken during the last quarter of 2020, when our economy was still in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic. The women business leaders hold positions on the C-suite level as chief executive officers, managing directors, chairpersons or other senior executives.
The Philippine percentage shows a positive proportion, surpassing the 30 percent threshold, a gauge to determine how representations can possibly shift policies and decision-making processes.
With women business leaders, pro-women policies may trickle down, allowing rank-and-file female employees to see that higher career trajectories are possibilities not far-fetched.
The firm’s report provides a sliver of hope amidst the pandemic, which has had insidious effects on women, particularly in the depressed sectors.
There has yet to be a comprehensive study on the impact of this health crisis on women. A pre-pandemic survey of the United Nations (UN) showed that women did three times as much unpaid housework as men. Add to that are the responsibilities of child care and homeschooling. The pandemic only widened this gap, the UN reported.
Still before the pandemic, the Philippines already saw an average of 2,600 women dying every year due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. Maternal mortality cases at the height of the pandemic last year increased up to 670 deaths or 26 percent higher than in the previous year. The darker effect is the spike in number of gender-based violence in 2020.
While 67 percent of the Philippine population is stuck on social media, the platform becomes hunting ground for cybercriminals preying on women. Gender-based online sexual harassment continues to increase. That, while some leaders continue to spew sexist remarks, rape jokes, rape threats despite the institution of the law on safe spaces.
There is a lot of work to do, and the better corners of our community must seize this month to reiterate the message of women empowerment. To strengthen further gender equality laws, create institutions that increase the capacities of women in poorer communities, provide mental health services, legal aid, even shelter and after-care livelihood for abused women.
Even our local media, a big percentage of which are women journalists, must tell more stories on women. In effect, more than human interest, it is social justice.